There's a new volley in the debate over superiority between dogs and cats, and dog lovers are going to be thrilled. Their intense battle over 'who is better?' - the dogs or cats - is likely to end, as recent studies have finally put a nail in the coffin.
Researchers at Vanderbilt chose to put the age old debate to the test objectively, studying the number of cortical neurons in the brains of a number of animals.
Suzana Herculano-Houzel, associate professor of psychology and biological sciences, developed the method of accurately measuring the number of neurons in the brains.
If an animal has more of these neurons, it would follow that they would be able to engage in more of these activities, so the study-for the first time ever-counted the number of these neurons in the brains of several animals.
In addition, the researchers determined that the ratio of neurons to brain size in small-and medium-sized carnivores was about the same as that of herbivores, suggesting that there is just as much evolutionary pressure on the herbivores to develop the brain power to escape from predators as there is on carnivores to catch them.
Neurons are the cells associated with thinking, planning and complex behaviour and are all considered hallmarks of intelligence.
The researchers found that dogs have "about twice as many neurons in the cerebral cortex [as] cats do", said Herculano-Houzel. But researchers still can't be sure whether dogs are using that capability to its full potential.
"At the least, we now have some biology that people can factor into their discussions about who's smarter, cats or dogs".
But look ― why turn this into a fight? It's probably the number of neurons that are residing in the brain.
The findings show that while dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons, cats have 250 million.
The study looks at cortical neurons, the cells associated with thinking, planning and complex behaviors that act as a measurement of intelligence, Vanderbilt's research arm wrote in a November 29 blog post.
"Raccoons were the huge surprise", Herculano-Houzel said.